School Life
Morning Meeting

Sound Investment

Visiting Trinity, Dr. Kevin Hallock, University of Richmond president and labor market economist, extolls the value of a liberal arts education
The Trinity community welcomed Dr. Kevin Hallock, president of the University of Richmond, to speak to students and faculty on the morning of Friday, January 20 in the Perkinson Arts Center theater.
Introducing Dr. Hallock, Head of School Rob Short praised the years-long partnership that Trinity has built over the years with the University of Richmond, neighbors just across the James River. “We visit their facilities, talk to their professors,” said Short. “That kind of partnership is incredibly important.”
An award- winning teacher, Hallock is a labor market economist and author or editor of 11 books and over 100 publications on topics such as the gender pay gap, executive compensation and job loss. “From an early age, my parents encouraged me to study hard and to ask questions,” said Hallock, tracing his own path to higher ed and beyond. “I had a lot of jobs when I was younger. I had a paper route, I picked cucumbers and tobacco, and I worked in a lumberyard. And I became fascinated with how people were paid, and why they're paid the way they're paid — and I still teach about it today.”
Hallock said his hope for all college students is to both discover something new and to develop deep knowledge in something specific. “Maybe you have ideas about what interests you and maybe you're still figuring it out,” he told the assembled Trinity students. “Most students don't know what they want to major in in college or what they want to do next. And that's okay,” he said. “You might amble along into something you didn't even know existed.”
Just as Trinity aims to equip students with future-ready skills to lead a life of meaning and purpose in an ever-changing world, Hallock’s vision for a liberal arts college education is one where students are prepared to adapt and be flexible. “Colleges should prepare you with greater knowledge about the world and a stronger capacity to think critically,” he said. “These are important kinds of tools for the future and tools that will be useful for an entire lifetime. These are not facts to be remembered or looked up, but skills for navigating a fulfilling life.”
Equally important for Hallock are the social experiences that a college education offers. “I firmly believe you learn as much in college as outside of the classroom,” he said. “Today's colleges bring together people from different places, with different backgrounds and different beliefs. Whatever you do after you graduate will involve people. Being part of a university community should help you work with and understand people who might be different from you.”
Addressing college affordability, Hallock encouraged students not to count out any school because of its so-called sticker price. At the University of Richmond, he said, only after admission decisions are made are the financial circumstances of families then considered, a practice known as “need-blind admission.”
As both a college president and a labor market economist, Hallock is in a uniquely authoritative position to address the lasting value of a college degree. While today’s tight labor market might make going directly into the workforce appealing, Hallock counseled a longer-term approach. “Overwhelming evidence suggests that people who are prepared for it — and being students here [at Trinity], you are prepared for it,” he said, “are profoundly better off going to college than not going to college.”
“Investing in college will give you a return,” he said. “But getting a college education isn't just about higher earrings. It will also open up opportunities for you to have a happier and more fulfilling life.”
Concluding his talk with some simple and memorable advice, he told students to work hard, find balance and be safe. “You have so much going for you and so much ahead. So many people are depending on you,” he remarked. “Take care of yourself and look out for others.”

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